Read Murder in the Air Online

Authors: Ellen Hart

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths, #Mystery, #detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Women Detectives, #Crime & Thriller, #Crime & mystery, #Hotelkeepers, #Radio plays, #Saint Paul (Minn.), #Minneapolis (Minn.), #Greenway; Sophie (Fictitious character), #Radio broadcasters

Murder in the Air

Praise for Ellen Hart
and her Sophie Greenway
mysteries

THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MURDER

“Strong characters and a rich Lake Superior setting make this solidly constructed mystery hard to put down. Another winner for Ellen Hart!”

—M. D. LAKE

FOR EVERY EVIL

“A dilly… A fair-play plot and contemporary characters that leap off the page … Stir in Martha Grimes with P. D. James and add a dash of Christie and Amanda Cross and you begin to get the idea: a cozy with a brain.”


Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

THE OLDEST SIN

“A brisk, lively plot that melds religion and food and realistic characters make Ellen Hart's third Sophie Greenway novel a solid mystery.… Hart does a first-rate job with this intelligent mystery.”


Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

Please turn the page
for more reviews…

Praise for Ellen Hart
and her Jane Lawless series

FAINT PRAISE

“Wit, charm, and fine writing.”


Library Journal

HALLOWED MURDER

“Hart's crisp, elegant writing and atmosphere [are] reminiscent of the British detective style, but she has a nicer sense of character, confrontation, and sparsely utilized violence.…
Hallowed Murder
is as valuable for its mainstream influences as for its sexual politics.”


Mystery Scene

VITAL LIES

“This compelling whodunit has the psychological maze of a Barbara Vine mystery and the feel of Agatha Christie.… Hart keeps even the most seasoned mystery buff baffled until the end.”


Publishers Weekly

STAGE FRIGHT

“Hart deftly turns the spotlight on the dusty secrets and shadowy souls of a prominent theater family. The resulting mystery is worthy of a standing ovation.”


Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine

A KILLING CURE

“A real treat… Secret passageways, a coded ledger, a mysterious group known only as the Chamber, experimental drugs, blackmail, sexual assault, betrayal: all the ingredients of a good whodunit.”


Lambda Book Report

A SMALL SACRIFICE

“A smart and shocking thriller.”


The Minnesota Daily

By Ellen Hart
Published by The Random House Publishing Group:

The Jane Lawless Mysteries:
HALLOWED MURDER
VITAL LIES
STAGE FRIGHT
A KILLING CURE
A SMALL SACRIFICE
FAINT PRAISE

The Sophie Greenway mysteries:
THIS LITTLE PIGGY WENT TO MURDER
FOR EVERY EVIL
THE OLDEST SIN
MURDER IN THE AIR

Books published by The Random House Publishing Group are available at quantity discounts on bulk purchases for premium, educational, fund-raising, and special sales use. For details, please call 1-800-733-3000.

For Kathy.
Twenty wonderful years together,
and an infinity to come.
Happy anniversary!

C
AST OF
C
HARACTERS

S
OPHIE
G
REENWAY
: Owner of the Maxfield Plaza Hotel in St. Paul; part-time restaurant reviewer for the
Minneapolis Times Register,
Bram's wife; Rudy's mother.

B
RAM
B
ALDRIC
: Radio talk-show host at WTWN in Minneapolis; Sophie's husband.

H
EDA
B
LOOM
: New owner of WTWN Radio in Minneapolis; Alfred and Justin's mother.

B
UD
M
ANDERBACH
: President and owner of Manderbach's department store.

B. B. M
ANDERBACH
: Bud's sister.

A
LFRED
(A
LF
) B
LOOM
: CEO of Bloom Enterprises; Heda and Cedric Bloom's son; Justin's half brother.

W
ISH
G
REVEEN
: Radio scriptwriter.

V
ALENTINE
Z
OLOTOW
: The voice of
Dallas Lane, Private Eye.

D
OROTHY
V
ENEGER
: Heda Bloom's personal assistant.

M
ITZI
Q
UINN
: Radio actress.

G
EORGE
C
HAMBERS
: Radio sound-effects technician.

J
USTIN
B
LOOM
: Heda Bloom's son.

K
AY
C
OLLINS
: Justin's girlfriend.

S
ALLY
N
ASH
: Kay's roommate.

J
ONNIE
A
PFENFORD
: Kay's roommate.

Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps;
for he is the only animal that is struck by the
difference between what things are and what
they might have been.

—W
ILLIAM
H
AZLITT

December 24, 1958

Mother:

I haven't got much time. By now, you've heard what happened. Don't believe what the police tell you, please! Wait until you hear the story from me. I know I haven't been around much lately, but I've had my reasons. All I ask is that you don't close the door on me. Don't tell Cedric or Alf I've sent you this note. Hear my story out first

that is, if I can get away from this god-awful town without getting caught. If I can, I'll write. If I can't—just know that I love you. You've always believed in me and for that I'm grateful. Pray for me now. It's night here and it's cold, and I'm more scared than I've ever been in my entire life.

Justin

1
the present, late November

“She bought the damned radio station!” announced Bram, dumping himself into a chair on the other side of his wife's desk. It was nearly four-thirty in the afternoon, exactly four weeks before Christmas. After entering her office at the Maxfield Plaza, St. Paul's most famous downtown hotel, he'd tossed his camel wool coat on the sofa, but had forgotten to remove a red wool scarf. It was still wound snugly around his neck.

“I already know,” said Sophie, organizing some file folders into a lower drawer. She eyed her husband warily, knowing that the flush climbing his cheeks wasn't because the scarf was cutting off circulation.

“How could you possibly know the station had been bought? I just found out myself a couple of hours ago.”

Sophie could read the frustration in his voice. Bram had one of the most expressive radio voices in the country. That, and his freely expressed opinions, were all part of what made him such a great talk-show host. “Well, actually, dear, Heda Bloom checked into the hotel this afternoon—complete with a bodyguard, her personal secretary, and four trunks of clothes.”

“She's staying
here?”

“Afraid so. As a matter of fact, I gave her the executive suite directly across from our apartment. For the duration of her visit, we're going to be neighbors.”

Bram's expressive voice failed him. “Ugh,” was all he could squeeze out.

“I tried to call you with the news, but you weren't in your office. I didn't think I should leave a message. It's not
bad
news, is it? I mean, she's such a nice woman.”

“A nice woman,” he repeated, leaning forward and running his fingers absently through his graying temples. “I'll be sure to remember that when I'm standing in line at the unemployment office.”

Sophie assumed he was joking. “You know,” she continued, glancing at a newly framed snapshot of her mom and dad standing in front of the Eiffel Tower—they were currently on a round-the-world tour. “My parents knew the Blooms back in the Fifties, when they owned WPXL. That was before Dad bought the Maxfield.”

“Do tell.” Bram's interest wasn't overwhelming.

“I even met Justin Bloom once.”

“Who's Justin Bloom?”

Sophie was aghast. “You've never heard of the infamous Justin Bloom?”

“I grew up in Chicago, Soph. We thought of St. Paul as a suburb—and not a very interesting one at that.”

“You may be in a bad mood, dear, but you don't have to insult my hometown.” She fussed indignantly with her short, reddish gold hair.

“Just finish the story. If he's related to my new boss, I want to hear it.”

“Well,” said Sophie, folding her arms over her chest, “if I recall correctly, Justin Bloom killed a woman by the name of Kay Collins back in the late Fifties. It was a real
cause celebre
in the Twin Cities. He was engaged to someone else at the time, but the reports said the woman he murdered was his lover.”

“No kidding.” He stopped fidgeting with his tie clasp and gave her his full attention. “What happened to him?”

“Nothing. He fled the country. I was just a kid at the time, but I remember my parents talking about it. The police kept the heat on him all over Europe. Eventually, I suppose, it just got to be old news and we didn't hear about it anymore. But as far as I know, he was never caught.”

“Fascinating.” Bram scratched his chin. “How was he related to Heda Bloom?”

“He was her son. Seems to me there was another son, too. I don't recall the name. Her husband, Cedric, died about a year after Justin committed the murder. I remember my parents saying he probably died of shame.”

“That must have been rough.” Unwinding the scarf from around his neck, Bram added, “I wonder if he really did it.”

“Oh, he did it, all right. There was an eyewitness. A police officer.”

“I guess my new boss has a few skeletons in her closet.” His manner grew distracted as he glanced at his watch.

Sophie assumed that when he'd walked into her office, he was home for the night. “Do you have to get back to the station?”

“Afraid so. It's a command performance. Heda is going to meet with us at five and give us all our walking papers.”

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